In The Know: President Biden to visit Tulsa for Race Massacre anniversary | Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial coverage | More

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Some stories included here are behind paywall or require subscription. OK Policy encourages the support of Oklahoma’s state and local media, which are vital to an informed citizenry. Subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

New from OK Policy

New laws should help improve health, well-being for Oklahoma children (Capitol Update): This was a remarkably good year for legislation on behalf of children and youth, whether they are in the child welfare system, the juvenile justice system or at home and school. Below is a brief synopsis of several forward-looking bills passed this year that those who are interested in children’s issues will be glad to know about. [Steve Lewis / OK Policy]

Tulsa Race Massacre: After the national spotlight fades: The national spotlight will shine on our state in the coming days as we gather to commemorate the centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre and its aftermath. Soon, however, this attention will fade and many long-standing issues will remain for Oklahomans to address. In addition to wrestling with the question of reparations, we need to address Oklahoma’s immense racial inequalities. [OK Policy

Oklahoma News

President Joe Biden to visit Greenwood 100 years after its destruction: President Joe Biden will visit Tulsa’s Greenwood District Tuesday, 100 years, virtually to the hour, after it was destroyed by white gangs. Details of Biden’s visit are scant, except that he will make no appearances open to the general public but is expected to make some sort of statement in the afternoon. [Tulsa World] | [AP News] | [Reuters] | 

  • A Proclamation on Day Of Remembrance: 100 Years After The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre [White House]
  • Biden will unveil a plan to help Black businesses and homeowners during his visit to Tulsa [New York Times]
  • What we know about President Biden’s visit to Tulsa [The Oklahoman]
  • Editorial: President Joe Biden comes to mark Tulsa’s worst moment [Editorial / Tulsa World]

Editorial: Tulsa has much to apologize for in the 1921 race massacre and what happened afterward: “Again and again, we hear: I was not alive in 1921; my family had nothing to do with it; I am not responsible. The moral statute of limitations has not lapsed, and the failure of too many to recognize the continuing pain — the failure even to offer a genuine apology in the name of the people of Tulsa to their fellow Tulsans — prevents true healing. Until we have atoned for the sins of the race massacre, culpability continues and compounds.” [Editorial / Tulsa World]

  • City Council resolution apologizing for 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, subsequent discrimination to be considered Wednesday [Tulsa World] | [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Tulsa mayor apologizes for massacre on behalf of city, supports ‘discussion’ on reparations [Public Radio Tulsa] | [Tulsa World]
  • Tulsa should apologize, make ‘tangible amends’ for race massacre, four city council members say [The Oklahoman]
  • ‘Pathway To Hope’ seeks to start conversation about damage building I-244 did to Greenwood [Public Radio Tulsa] | [Tulsa World]
  • Commander apologizes for Oklahoma National Guard’s role in Tulsa Race Massacre [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Tulsa County Democrats call out racism within party’s past and present, supports reparations [Black Wall Street Times] | [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Descendant of W. Tate Brady — Tulsa founder who played a role in race massacre — reaches out to leaders in the Greenwood District [Tulsa World]
  • Tulsa Race Massacre: Elected officials on when they learned about it and how it influences them [Oklahoma Watch]
  • Tulsa Race Massacre: Complete coverage from the Associated Press [AP News]
  • Town hall on justice for survivors and descendants of Tulsa Race Massacre [Tulsa World]
  • 100 years after Tulsa Race Massacre, grave excavations, fight for reparations continue [NonDoc]
  • Leading Race Massacre scholar: Reparations a must [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • US Representative from Texas sponsoring reparations commission bill voices support for Tulsa effort [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Armed demonstrators march through Tulsa as part of ‘National Black Power Convention’ [Public Radio Tulsa] | [Tulsa World]
  • Column: Massacre’s impact echoes in disparities [Ginnie Graham Column / Tulsa World]
  • The burning of Black Tulsa: What would justice look like? [The Daily Podcast / New York Times]

Tulsa Race Massacre prayer room highlights churches’ 1921 sins, seeks healing: The words on the wall are jarring. They are filled with racist language and victim blaming. Worst of all, they are taken from the mouths of professed men of God — from sermons preached on the Sunday after the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921. [Oklahoma Watch] | [The Oklahoman]

  • Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial: ‘The blood is still speaking’ [Oklahoma Watch]
  • Sunrise vigil marks whistle signaling invasion of Greenwood on this day 100 years ago [Tulsa World]

Unknown victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre honored: Over the course of the past two years, the Tulsa Community Remembrance Coalition has also worked alongside the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama to honor the history and the lives of this sacred land through a series of soil collections. Each soil collection serves to memorialize the life of a 1921 Tulsa Massacre lynching victim. [Black Wall Street Times] | [Public Radio Tulsa] | [Tulsa World] | [The Oklahoman] Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee honors Hughes Van Ellis at closing remembrance ceremony, survivors and descendants host town hall [Black Wall Street Times]

How Tulsa massacre spent most of last century unremembered: The nightmare cried out for attention, as something to be investigated and memorialized, with speeches and statues and anniversary commemorations. But the horror and violence visited upon Tulsa’s Black community didn’t become part of the American story. Instead, it was pushed down, unremembered and untaught until efforts decades later started bringing it into the light. And even this year, with the 100th anniversary of the massacre being recognized, it’s still an unfamiliar history to many — something historians say has broader repercussions. [AP News via Public Radio Tulsa]

  • Why it took 100 years for America to learn about the Tulsa massacre [Vox]
  • Tulsa massacre documentaries offer deep dive into tragedy [AP News via Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Tulsa World publishes 64-page Tulsa Race Massacre Archive Edition [Tulsa World]
  • ‘Greenwood: Here and Now’ documentary streaming [Tulsa World]
  • A witness to the Tulsa massacre, and a family history forever altered [New York Times]
  • Greenwood author’s first-person history of 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre published 100 years later [The Oklahoman]
  • A New York professor and Tulsa DA helped clear records of Black men accused of wrongdoing in Race Massacre [Tulsa World]
  • What I’ve learned teaching the Tulsa Race Massacre for two decades [Hannibal Johnson Op-Ed / New York Times]

Related coverage

Health News

What does Oklahoma’s Medicaid expansion mean for me? Who’s eligible and how to apply: Oklahomans eligible for health coverage through Medicaid expansion can begin applying for benefits Tuesday. Here’s what you need to know about who’s eligible and how to apply. [The Oklahoman] OK Policy and the CoverOK Coalition held an online event Connecting to Health Care: The Ins and Outs of Enrolling for Medicaid Expansion to help explain how Oklahomans can apply for health care coverage through Medicaid expansion.

The Oklahoma Legislature will raise hospital fees to fund Medicaid expansion: Displeased by hospitals’ support for Medicaid expansion, some Republicans believe increased fees should start before available federal funds are used up. [The Frontier]

State Government News

Examining the impact: How Oklahoma’s new laws will affect you: Oklahoma lawmakers closed this year’s legislative session this week after spending four months debating and voting on bills that will have lasting impacts. Here’s a look at how different segments of Oklahoma’s population will feel the impact of some bills that the Legislature passed, or didn’t pass. [Oklahoma Watch]

Outgoing AG Hunter dismisses attempted bribery charges against Stitt cabinet member: Outgoing Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter on Friday afternoon dismissed attempted bribery charges against David Ostrowe, Oklahoma’s secretary of digital transformation. [Oklahoma Watch] | [AP News] | [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma agencies barred from vaccination, mask mandates: Oklahoma state agencies will be barred from requiring a mask or coronavirus vaccination as a condition of being allowed to enter a state building or office under an executive order signed by Gov. Kevin Stitt. [AP News] | [The Oklahoman] | [Tulsa World]

Lawmakers approve $42 Million in tax incentives to expand broadband: Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a more than $9 billion budget for the next fiscal year, including millions in tax incentives for broadband companies. The hope is that the money will expand internet access in underserved and rural communites across Oklahoma. [KGOU]

Capitol Insider: Oklahoma Legislature adjourns Sine Die: The 2021 legislative session ended just a little early – the House and Senate each adjourned Sine Die on Thursday morning. KGOU’s Dick Pryor and eCapitol’s Shawn Ashley discuss the final few days of the session. [KGOU]

Oklahoma panhandle to get ‘President Donald J. Trump Highway’ due to GOP-backed bill: Gov. Kevin Stitt on Friday signed legislation that will name a stretch of highway in the panhandle after the former president. [The Oklahoman]

Editorial: 2021 Legislature’s tax cuts create a year to regret: Whatever else happened in the 2021 session of the Oklahoma Legislature, the decision to undercut the state tax base permanently stands out as a monumentally poor move. [Editorial / Tulsa World]

Federal Government News

Federal highway bill promises $4.4 billion for Oklahoma roads and bridges: Oklahoma would receive nearly $4.4 billion for roads and bridges over the next five years, under a bipartisan highway bill approved this week by a U.S. Senate committee. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma-based oil and gas commission seeks nearly $5 billion in plugging aid: A bill before the U.S. Senate proposes sending $4.7 billion to states, tribes and the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to plug and rehabilitate abandoned oil and gas wells. [The Oklahoman]

Tribal News

Data privacy could diminish accuracy of 2020 Census in Indian Country, leaders say: The census has historically undercounted Native Americans. Now advocates worry it could make people living on rural reservations disappear. More than half of federally recognized tribes could face amplified error rates in the first set of census figures set to be released this fall. [The Oklahoman] OK Policy: An OK Policy report on the 2020 census highlights missed opportunities in getting a complete count in Oklahoma. 

Tribes to confront bias against descendants of enslaved people: With pressure growing from the Biden administration, two Native American tribes in Oklahoma have agreed to consider reversing their policies of denying citizenship to descendants of Black people who were enslaved by them before the Civil War. [New York Times]

  • Two Oklahoma tribes consider tribal citizenship for Freedmen [AP News]

Criminal Justice News

Man shot, killed after striking Pushmataha Co. deputy with vehicle: A man who struck a sheriff’s deputy with his vehicle early Sunday morning following a chase in rural southeastern Oklahoma was fatally shot by a deputy, authorities said. [AP News]

Deadly police chase that killed OKC mother reached 95 mph, documents show: A police pursuit that left an Oklahoma City mother dead reached speeds of 95 mph through an eastside corridor, according to court documents. [The Oklahoman]

Economic Opportunity

Assistance for past due rent, utilities available to Oklahomans: Millions of dollars in federal aid are available to Oklahomans who owe back rent or who may be facing eviction. [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

Opinion: As the gig economy rises, the definition of an ’employee’ continues to be debated: In the age of Uber and Postmates, the question of who is an independent contractor versus who is a traditional employee is more important than ever. [Op-Ed / The Oklahoman]

Education News

State education department to help fund more school counselors statewide: After years of advocating for more school counselors in districts across the state, Oklahoma State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister has found the funding to establish a School Counselor Corps to provide additional mental health resources for Oklahoma students. [Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise] OSDE will use $35 million in federal virus relief money to give districts 50% salary and benefits matches for hiring licensed counselors, psychologists and other professionals. State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said the funding should cover 300 counselors for three years as part of the Oklahoma School Counselor Corps initiative. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Op-Ed: ‘The Blueberry Story’ a valuable lesson in understanding students: Jamie Vollmer wrote “Schools Cannot Do it Alone,” which tells the story of his evolution as a business leader who believed that if public education was run like a business all problems would be solved. [Op-Ed / The Oklahoman]

Editorial: Encouraging moves by Epic’s new governing board: We were encouraged by the moves taken by a reconstituted governing board for Epic Charter Schools Wednesday. After a series of resignations and new appointments, Epic’s seven-person governing board voted to sever its relationship with Epic Youth Services, the for-profit school management that has reportedly made millionaires out of school founders David Chaney and Ben Harris. [Editorial / Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Decreased revenue means Oklahoma County plans to cut spending in next fiscal year [The Oklahoman]
  • Civil rights lawyers’ claim for fees in panhandling case should be cut by nearly half, city says [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“If we want to make progress, that requires the kind of persistence and tedium that is not glamorous. What’s the point of telling the story of the massacre if we’re not going to address the issues and challenges that it raises?”

-Hannibal Johnson, a Tulsa scholar who has written several books on the Greenwood District and the Tulsa Race Massacre [Vox

Number of the Day


Approximate number of Black Tulsans held in internment camps following the Tulsa Race Massacre. The National Guard forced these prisoners, both men and women, to labor to clean up the destruction caused by white rioters. The mayor threatened to arrest for vagrancy anyone who refused to work. [Oklahoma Historical Society]

Policy Note

After The Burning: The Economic Effects of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre: Researchers estimated the effect of the Massacre on the Black population of Tulsa up until 1940. They found that for the Black population of Tulsa, the Massacre resulted in a decline in home ownership, occupational status, and educational attainment. It also resulted in an increase in labor force participation, particularly for women. We also find evidence that Black people living in Oklahoma, but outside of Tulsa county, were also affected by the Massacre. [Harvard University]

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David Hamby has more than 25 years of experience as an award-winning communicator, including overseeing communication programs for Oklahoma higher education institutions and other organizations. Before joining OK Policy, he was director of public relations for Rogers State University where he managed the school’s external communication programs and served as a member of the president’s leadership team. He served in a similar communications role for five years at the University of Tulsa. He also has worked in communications roles at Oklahoma State University and the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce in Arkansas. He joined OK Policy in October 2019.

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